If you have replaced the hard drive on your Mac with an SSD (a very good move!) then you have already experienced how the flash storage enhances the overall user experience. However, to get the most out of your SSD and extend its lifespan, it’s wise to avoid the mistakes that most users make when installing a new flash storage disk. Read on for practical advice on optimizing your Mac for your brand new SSD.
When you get your hands on the upgraded Mac, you’ll immediately feel the difference in terms of speed – everything from the time it takes to boot up to how long an app takes to load. The most common mistake users make here is to use Time Machine (or their preferred third-party backup system) to restore all the data that was previously stored on the HDD.
That’s not the best way to get the most out of your SSD. The problem with this approach is that while you will get all your files and apps back, you’ll also inherit the old system’s space-hogging legacy elements. Apps you never really used, huge mailboxes, that massive downloads folder you never cleared out will all get carried over this way, not to mention the cache files and junk data that had built up during the years of using the system.
Although it takes more time, the best way to maintain peak performance of your Mac and its new SSD is to carefully consider which apps you want to install. The same approach applies for files and folders, too. If you have iCloud enabled, this will be a seamless transition because all your files saved in iCloud Drive will appear on your refreshed Mac after signing in with your Apple ID. If not, then review them manually and copy only those that you really need. The rest can sit on an external drive.
Move Large Files to HDD
The same goes for large files or folders, particularly videos and the Photos or iTunes library that occupy huge chunks of space but aren’t needed immediately. Photographers and video professionals can obviously skip this part, but the rest of us general users tend to store massive amounts of photos and videos that quickly fill up the limited space of the SSD. Unless you need to access these libraries on a daily basis, simply drop them on an external drive and keep that device to hand.
Turn Off Local Snapshots
Although this is a neat feature of Time Machine, it is worth disabling unless you depend on local backups you. Local snapshots occupy too much precious storage space and may even interfere with plans to install Windows on a Mac, but the real catch is that macOS doesn’t show how much space local snapshots are using and therefore makes it hard to figure out how much free space you have on the machine.
Also, keep in mind the limited number of write (P/E aka program/erase) cycles that SSDs have, which is usually around 10,000. Since local snapshots fill up the startup disk, macOS starts to delete them, which increases the number of writes that occur and therefore shortens the SSD’s lifespan.
This is why it is wise to simply disable local snapshots. To do so, simply turn off Time Machine’s automatic backups. Keep in mind, though, that you will need to manually select “Backup now” each time you connect the Time Machine disk to your Mac.
Don’t Run Benchmarks
It may be tempting to quantify the speed improvements that an SSD brings but running various benchmarks just increases the number of writes and erases on the flash storage, which will obviously eat into its limited write cycle count. So, if you don’t need to run a benchmark, just skip it. You’ll feel the difference immediately after starting the machine.
Turn Off Hibernation
You’ll likely read on some blogs that turning off hibernation mode on laptops will optimize the SSD performance, but this is only party true: Apple designed hibernate mode to prevent data loss and it has three recommended settings. By default, the hibernate mode is set to “3” on MacBooks. There is one thing you should keep in mind with this, however: hibernate mode only activates in certain scenarios and its frequency depends on your usage. It’s not recommended to disable hibernation, but if you feel that it’s necessary, then do understanding the risk to any unsaved work.
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